I started boxing when I was 17-year-old, Bolanle Shogbamu, Gold medalist at the African games in Rabat, who is married to a boxer, Waheed Sogbamu, reveals her boxing story and the challenges of female boxers in Nigeria.
“Watching videos of Muhammad Ali is the first contact I had with boxing before my stepdad introduced me to a coach, Obanla, in Akure, Ondo State when he saw me watching boxing movies.
He asked if I liked to box, I said, ‘yes.’ That’s how I got here’’
In her first international competition representing Team Nigeria, the 26-year- old won Gold medalist at the Africa games in Rabat in the (69kg) defeated Mozambique’s PANGUANE Alcinda 4-1 to be Nigeria’s sole gold medalist in boxing at the 2019 African Games.
“I was well prepared for the games, coming back with a gold medal is something of joy to me and my family.
I am really delighted I won a gold medal for Nigeria at the last African Games in Morocco.
I knew I could do it even before going for the Games because I was very prepared. I am happy every time I see the medal.”
Boxing in Nigeria is regarded as a male sport; therefore, it wasn’t a beautiful beginning for Bolanle Shogbamu, a victim of stigmatization against female boxers in Nigeria, even from her mother.
“A lot of people laughed at me when I took interest in boxing. Some even referred to me as a tout because in Nigeria, people think boxers are troublemakers and touts, and that they are not well respected in the community. When I developed the passion for boxing, many people believed I wasn’t a serious person but now, they are thinking differently.”
“My parents support me fully but because of my stubborn attributes as a child and I do get involved in fights, my mother threatens to stop me.
“the media needs to help talk about women boxing and boxers on their platforms”, said Bolanle, who is aiming to win a Gold medal at the Olympics, “the promotion of female boxers is a collective work “
For female boxing to thrive, she says “It has to be a collective work. The government needs to provide an enabling environment for the sport to thrive
This will definitely bring the needed exposure to the sport. A lot of money can be made from women’s boxing and a lot of girls are out there hoping to make a career from it.”
On the issue of equal pay for male and female boxers, she explains there is a need for equal pay.
“I believe in equal pay for both sexes because we are doing the same job. In the aspect of boxing, we take our time to train and go into the ring. We receive punches just like men do, so I think we should get equal pay’’.